BY JOANNE DEMICHELE
Please consider my comments regarding a bill in your Health and Public Affairs Committee.
SB298, introduced by Senator Siah Correa Hemphill and Senator Bill O’Neill, takes a crucial first step toward stabilizing housing for vulnerable New Mexicans.
I am a single, 75-year-old woman living in a manufactured home land-lease community that I moved to 2 years ago to make it easier for me to age in place. I paid $75,000, most of my life savings, for my home and added a deck and accessibility ramp (for my friends and neighbors now and for my future needs).
Like others living in manufactured home communities, I own my home and rent the land under it. Shortly after my move here, the ground under my home was sold to out-of-town investors who offered everyone a month-to-month lease and raised our land rent by 20%-40%. PEOPLE THROUGHOUT NEW MEXICO ARE EXPERIENCING SIMILAR, AND WORSE, ABUSES.
Affordable housing issues affect people of all ages. However, I would like to focus on older women who have nurtured and supported others in many ways during their younger years, and still, but are some of the most vulnerable people in these situations.
Many of my neighbors are single women on fixed incomes. One is in her 80s and cleans homes to make ends meet. Another single woman in her 80s had a stroke and, within six months, also lost her husband and only child. I have at least three neighbors who are single women living independently in their own homes in their 90s. We are all happy and thriving together in our homes and community.
Here are some health and public interest statistics and references:
- 20% of men and 33% of women over 65 live alone.
- Women live an average of 5-7 years longer than men.
- Women aged 65 and over receive 26% less income than men from the pension system and retire with less wealth. (When women my age started paying into Social Security, we typically earned 55% of the wages men earned).
- During their careers, women are twice as likely as men to work part-time or take time off to care for a child or other family member. They are less able to save for retirement.
- According to the World Health Organization and others, some of the most critical determinants of health include social support networks, affordable housing, and income security.
- Currently, 21.5% of New Mexicans are over 60. In 2030, they will represent 32.5% of the total population in New Mexico.
- The percentage of people living with disabilities in New Mexico is 15% (12.6% is the national average). That number increases to 47.1% for people over 75 and 71% for people over 80.
- 40% of older Americans rely solely on Social Security for Retirement Income (National Institute on Retirement Security).
- Today’s manufactured homes are durable, safe, solid, and eco-friendly. Manufactured homes can be custom built to be ADA compliant and easily modified for accessibility. These communities must be protected and possibly expanded to address the need for affordable housing and aging communities.
- See: Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. https://wiserwomen.org/category/fact-sheets/women-retirement-the-facts-and-statistics/
· See: Retirement Security:Older Women Report Facing a Financially Uncertain Future: https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-20-435
· Administration for Community Living. https://acl.gov/
· Here’s an important documentary, A Decent Home, by Sara Terry that addresses urgent issues affecting manufactured home communities: https://www.adecenthomefilm.com/
· Here is one of hundreds, possibly thousands, of news articles on this subject. Rents Spike as Large Corporate Investors Buy Mobile Home Parks. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/rents-spike-as-large-corporate-investors-buy-mobile-home-parks
I hope you agree that affordable housing, equity for homeowners who rent the land under their homes, and inequities facing aging women are connected. Solutions are also interrelated.